The Story of an Irish Harp

IMG_7305 Whilst touring Trinity College Dublin a few years ago, I listened in amazement as our tour guide told us how Elizabeth the First banned all minstrels and harps from the land in Ireland.  All cultural systems had been broken down with the invasion of the Anglo-Normans, the Irish kings of high standing were replaced with English nobility and their harpers were forced to wander from court to court.  Before long the English suspected them of being spies and Queen Elizabeth decreed in 1603 that all Irish harp players should be hung and their harps burned!  As one who has lived in a country without a monarch and a country that began its existence to flee tyranny, this left me altogether bewildered and bewuthered. 2015/01/img_0063.jpg IMG_0064 Cromwell came along and did his best to finish off all remaining harpist in both Ireland and Scotland.  I suppose the English thought traveling harpists were a cause of rebellion amongst the Irish people.  What I found delightful at the end of this discourse was to hear that the harp is now the national symbol of Ireland and you can find it everywhere throughout the land.  And now you see the bit of rebellion in me that has flowed down in my veins from ancestors who fought in the Revolutionary War.  What’s that? Tea? No thank you!


The Brian Boru harp at Trinity college is named after the High King of all Ireland, Brian Bóroimhe, whoo lived from 941-1014.  It was presented to Trinity College Dublin in 1782 and has remained there ever since.  The harp has a complex series of legendary histories associated with it.


I thought it fitting to design a sock pattern with a complex Celtic design that I reminded me of the harp, let’s call it a belated ‘souvenir’.  The Gaelic name for an Irish Harp is Cláirseach so now you have the story behind the name and behind the inspiration. IMG_0368 IMG_0370 IMG_0371 The sock can be knit in two lengths, short and tall.  And, I have written the pattern for Toe-Up (orange sock) or Cuff-Down (blue sock).  The pattern is knit with a fingering weight yarn, my choices were Malabrigo Sock and Wollmeise 80/20.  I knit mine on one long circular needle using magic loop, my latest favorite way to knit socks.



Happy Knitting!

One Comment on “The Story of an Irish Harp

  1. A rest bit of history ~ Thanks for sharing. And I love your new socks! I will have to give them a try, with the appropriate music playing, of course 🙂

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